KICKOFF: Sunday, 1:00 ET
LOCATION:Gillette Stadium Foxboro, MA
Rain /Thunder 59°F
Feels like 59°F
Chance of Precipitation 80%
TV: CBS, Jim Nantz, Phil Simms
SERIES: 92nd meeting. Jets lead, 47-44-1. The Jets hold a slim three-game lead in the all-time regular-season series but that margin is shrinking every time the teams have met recently. The Patriots have beaten their AFC East foes seven times in a row, including a 24-17 victory in Week 2 this season.
2006 rankings: Jets: offense 22nd (13th rush, 23rd pass); defense 31st (30th rush, 22nd pass). Patriots: offense 11th (7th rush, 13th pass); defense 12th (3rd rush, 28th pass)
PREDICTION: Patriots 31-24
KEYS TO THE GAME: To snap a seven-game losing streak in the series, the Jets have to turn the tide in the running game on both sides of the ball. They fell behind 24-0 in the first meeting and the Patriots were able to hold onto the victory by out-rushing the Jets 147-51. The Jets haven't rushed for more than 55 yards in the past four meetings, but rookie RB Leon Washington has emerged as a factor in recent weeks. If he can be productive on early downs, it will set QB Chad Pennington up for shots downfield off play-action against a secondary minus injured S Rodney Harrison. New England's offensive game plan has been pass-heavy the past two weeks, but expect the Patriots to lean on RBs Corey Dillon and Laurence Maroney until the Jets' 30th-ranked run defense proves it can stop the ground game.
FAST FACTS: Jets: Coach Eric Mangini was an assistant for New England from 2000-05. ... Pennington is 7-3 (.700) in November as a starter. Patriots: Have won 15 of their last 17 games against the AFC East. ... Are 4-0 all-time in games immediately following a game in which QB Tom Brady has thrown three or more interceptions.
--TE Daniel Graham, who has missed the Patriots' past four games with an ankle injury, is listed as questionable for Sunday's game.
--G Stephen Neal (shoulder) has missed two games in a row and is listed as questionable for this week's matchup with the Jets.
--S Eugene Wilson (hamstring) is questionable for Sunday's game. Wilson didn't play against he Colts but would be a welcome addition to the Patriots secondary this week with S Rodney Harrison out.
--RB Laurence Maroney (ankle) is listed as questionable for Sunday's game. Maroney was on the injury report last week with the same injury, but it didn't hinder him against the Colts.
--DL Richard Seymour injured his elbow in Buffalo but has started the Patriots' past two games. He's listed as questionable for Sunday.
Injury Report: Official site
--QB Chad Pennington is listed as probable with a calf injury. He will play Sunday.
--WR Laveranues Coles (calf) was limited in practice Thursday, but he will play Sunday.
--RB Cedric Houston (knee) was limited in practice Thursday but could play Sunday. He has missed the past four games.
--WR Justin McCareins (foot) was limited in practice Thursday. His role in the offense has shrunk, as he has just one catch in the past six games.
--RB Kevan Barlow (calf) practiced Thursday and is listed as probable. His carries could diminish even more once Cedric Houston gets back on the field.
Injury Report: Official report
SCOUTING THE TEAMS
New England's best defensive back, strong safety Rodney Harrison, is out with a broken shoulder blade suffered in the Patriots' loss to Indianapolis.
But Jets quarterback Chad Pennington isn't about to get overconfident because of that.
"Rodney Harrison is a great player, and he's a great player that plays with instinct," Pennington said. "You've got to know where he is on the field at all times. But we all know that New England epitomizes the team concept and they do a great job when they face adversity with injuries and things like that.
"They're able to formulate a game plan and go out and still win games. We can't put too much emphasis on that. We've got to realize that we're playing the Patriots and not just one player. We're playing a full team that understands how to win when they face adversity, and that's important."
Pennington faced plenty of adversity in his last game, going 11-for-28 with two interceptions in a loss to Cleveland before the Jets' bye, meaning the cerebral quarterback had plenty of time to analyze that performance.
"What I tried to do was really analyze the first eight games and see where I can improve and see where I can be more consistent," he said. "It's really glaring when you look at the six games compared to the two games, which was Cleveland and Jacksonville, and look at the amount of production and the amount of efficiency and consistency in those six games compared to the two games. It's amazing to see the difference. It's like night and day."
He's correct. Pennington had no touchdown passes and five interceptions in those two games, compared to a 9-4 ratio in the other six contests.
"I think that my goal is to become more consistent," he said. "Although you're going to have bad plays and bad series, I want to focus on turning (around) those bad plays and bad series, just not letting that carry over to a bad game. I want to try to be on an even keel and keep the team in the game at all times where we have a chance to win at the end."
Pennington said that "consistency is the common denominator, or lack of consistency, but they were two different games. Jacksonville was more decision-making and having three really bad decisions. Cleveland, it was just a lot of different things, whether it was not being on the same page with my receivers, but a combination of things. Jacksonville was just blatant, three bad decisions."
Of course, a lot of quarterbacks make bad decisions against Bill Belichick-coached defenses, but Pennington had two touchdown passes and only one interception in the earlier 2006 game between the teams. The Jets lost 24-17 after trailing 24-0.
"It was right there on the threshold of being a blowout," Pennington recalled, "but we were able to keep our composure and poise and we were able to bounce back and make it a game. What we've realized is that we have to start a little faster, stay consistent early and carry that consistency through to the fourth quarter."
Rodney Harrison will miss this week's game against the Jets because of a broken scapula, and it's not clear when Harrison will return to the team.
"Rodney is going to be out for this game, unfortunately," coach Bill Belichick said. "He was injured last week and we all hope he'll be back out there soon. Nobody worked harder to get back out on the field this year than he did after what happened last year. It's unfortunate, but I know he'll work hard and we'll just do the best we can without him here."
Belichick wouldn't speculate about the severity of the injury, nor would he give a timeline for Harrison's return.
"If I knew anymore I would tell you," he said. "We've had injuries, and we've seen plenty of cases in this league where players have similar injuries and they're out different lengths of time. There's no way to predict it. I know we have a lot of experts out there that think everything can be very clearly stated, but the fact of the matter is that's just not the case. You see many examples of it throughout the league and throughout sports. ... I think he's a pretty tough player, mentally and physically -- a tough player. I would say that, regardless of what the situation was."
The injury was sustained when Harrison tackled Colts wideout Marvin Harrison and fell hard on his right shoulder.
Rodney Harrison, 33, is in his 13th NFL season. He suffered a season-ending injury in last season's Week 3 game against the Steelers, when he tore three ligaments in his left knee. Harrison spent nine months recovering, though he was healthy enough to return to the field before Game 1 of this season. Harrison suffered a fracture to his left shoulder in 1999 when he was with the Chargers. That injury forced him to miss 10 of San Diego's last 11 games.
The Patriots' starting free safety, Eugene Wilson, also has been plagued by injuries, starting only one of the past four games, with Artrell Hawkins playing in his place.
"We're all professionals. Whenever your number is called, you have to be ready to play, no matter who you are, it doesn't matter whether you're Tom Brady or a practice squad player," Hawkins said. "When your number is called, it's time to go out there and shine. I think whoever is behind him is going to get the game plan in and we're going to work extra hard this week so we have our communication down, study a lot of tape, and we'll see what happens."
Filling in for Harrison most likely will be Chad Scott. Scott has played some safety for the Patriots, although the 10-year veteran has been primarily a cornerback since entering the league.
"Playing cornerback is more like running a track meet every play, where playing safety is more about communication," Scott said.
While there's no question the Patriots will miss their emotional leader on Sunday, the team is confident that Scott, Hawkins and the rest of the defensive backs can pick up the slack in the secondary until he returns.
"Guys have to step up," linebacker Tedy Bruschi said. "We always pride ourselves on when one guys goes down, someone else has to come in and do the job. Losing Rodney is a big loss for us; he's a guy who did a lot of things for us. We have to move on and worry about the Jets right now, and whoever is going to be in there for him, they have to do the job."
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Patriots Message Boards - Fan forums before, during and after the game
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